Even though I am technically a professional writer who has exploited technology and 21st century publishing sensibilities to make a nice living for myself, I still have some old fashioned notions about writing. One of those notions is that you’re not really a writer until you have written a book.
This is stupid, of course. I write hundreds of thousands of words a year and more people read them each week than the number of people who buy bestselling books. But … it’s obviously different.
My writing is a decent paper plate that you’re really glad you have when the pizza is delivered. It’s nothing you’re going to want to keep around when you’re done with it. And really, it was all about the pizza anyway. If you didn’t have the plate, you’d make do with a paper towel.
I am not ashamed of being a blogger. Indeed, I champion the form like crazy and believe that it’s far more useful to most people than most traditional journalism. But most of what I write is ultimately disposable. Whether it’s driven by ego or those old fashioned ideas or whatever, I aspire to write something a bit more, I dunno, weighty, than my usual hot takes on the day’s sports ball news.
It’s hard for me to even say that because it sounds fucking pretentious and is imbued with no small about of hubris. When I say it I feel like some silly, fluffy little pop star who announces that he truly aspires to record a great concept album about the state of society. Or, I dunno, compose a symphony. Those guys’ reach always exceeds their grasp. Even when they’re geniuses, which I am not. If Elvis Costello couldn’t pull that shit off, what chance do I have?
But I’m going to do it anyway. It is New Year’s Eve. I am home alone, and I have been writing for several hours. I have done this before, of course – I have begun countless books which I have not finished over the past several years – but this feels different. There are a handful of subjects I have gone back to over and over again and I am going over them again now, but for the first time I feel like I have the distance to write about them in a fashion that is of interest to someone besides me rather than to just bleed all over the page about them. Now is the time to do so.
I never make New Year’s resolutions, ever. But this year I resolve to finish this book. I don’t care if it’s published. I don’t care if it’s even read by anyone. But I am going to write this fucker and finish it to say that I did. If I don’t, meet me back here this time next year and give me what-for.
And if I do and it’s the literary equivalent of “The Juliet Letters,” well, I’ll just rush out my equivalent of “Brutal Youth” in the form of about 300 blog posts a month for the next several years and pretend like this never happened. I like it and it’s a good living.